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With Autumn comes the optimal weather for bowhunting. Now that hunting season is right around the corner, your bow skills may be a little rusty depending on how much time you’ve devoted to practice during the offseason. In order to make the most of your trip and seize every opportunity that, quite literally, walks in front of you, be sure to sharpen your bow skills and build up your accuracy. The following are just a few ways you can do just that.

  1. Mix up your targets

While practicing with bullseyes or specifically marked targets can certainly be beneficial, it doesn’t create a realistic setting. The animals you intend to hunt will not be conveniently marked with brightly colored targets. To prepare for this, practice with blank targets at varying distances. This effectively emulates the body of an animal, forcing you to pick a spot without the help of any type of marker. It’s a much more practical approach to improving your accuracy, as the realistic environment better prepares you for the unpredictable conditions you may be hunting in.

  1. Practice letting down

There are going to be countless incidents in which you draw your arrow back and end up holding that position for long periods of time, just waiting for your target to walk into better view. More often than not, you will eventually have to let down and wait for a better opportunity. Simply practicing drawing back, holding for a minute or so, then letting down can make you much more familiar with the movements.

Draw your arrow back slowly, hold that position as still as you can for as long as you can, then let down in a slow, controlled action. When out in the field, this practice can translate to much more stability and control; something vital in the world of hunting, as any sudden movement seen by your target can surely spook it.

  1. Perform cardiovascular exercises

Exercise in general is beneficial on several levels, but improving control of your heart rate is the most applicable benefit to bowhunting. In real-life situations, the pressure you are under will undoubtedly increase your heart rate, possibly affecting your aim and control. Being able to manually control and decrease this is extremely effective in hunting.

Try running half a mile or so, then picking up your bow seconds afterward and taking aim. While drawn, breath steadily and focus on your target, paying attention to your heart rate. The more you exercise, the faster you will be able to lower your heart rate.

  1. Change scenery

Most hunting environments will rarely be ideal. Rather than practicing on just level ground, set up on more awkward, difficult surfaces. You may come across deer or birds located in steep valleys, which will require your vantage point to be high up, possibly on a mountainside. Practice shooting down on uneven ground, in difficult positions, or with limited view. The situations you come across when bowhunting will almost never be easy, so the more prepared you are for problematic environments, the better chances you have of walking away with a trophy.